Consumer power and choice deferral: The role of anticipated regret

Abstract

This paper examines the influence of social power on consumers’ propensity to defer choice. Based on the notion that elevated power reduces regret anticipation—the fear of making a wrong choice—it is proposed that power influences the extent of choice deferral by reducing consumers’ susceptibility to anticipated regret. Because of the regret-based mechanism, power can increase or decrease consumers’ propensity to defer choice, depending upon the situational factors that are associated with anticipated regret, such as salience of regret, outcome reversibility (e.g., return policy), and locus-of-regret (postponing vs. choosing now). Using different manipulations of power, seven studies provide consistent support for the proposed effects and show that situational factors and marketing strategies can induce, turn off, or even reverse the effect of power on deferral. Theoretical contributions and managerial implications are discussed.

Publication
International Journal of Research in Marketing
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Mehdi Mourali
Associate Professor of Marketing